I'm a mother to two small, rowdy, active boys. One is 4 years old, the other is almost 9 months old. I'm running around from son up to son down, everyday. I'm lucky enough to be able to stay home full-time with my children. I try my best with them. I get them to school on time. They have clean clothes and are fed. By all accounts, they are happy and healthy. So, what do I have to feel guilty about? I'm so glad you asked.
When I birthed my first child, I was also gifted with the heavy burden of a giant ol' suitcase full of guilt.
Some things that I currently feel guilty for:
- Not working out of the home and providing financially for my family
- Thinking about working out of the home and taking time away from my children
- Wanting to spend any time away from my children
- That my mental health suffers if I spend all my time with my children
- The fact that my son eats peanut butter approximately 8 times a day
- The baby might have tried to eat dog food the other day
- The baby refused to nurse
- The baby bit me while I was trying to nurse him
- I don't take my children out of the house enough
- I don't give my children enough time to play at the house
- I hover too much
- I don't hover enough
- I am too stern
- I am too soft
- I am not emotionally available to both of them simultaneously all the time
- But they'll never learn to be independent
- They eat processed foods which will give them cancer probably
- But fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides that will give them cancer
- If they don't wear sunscreen, their skin will burn and they will get cancer
- But sunscreen gives them cancer
I could go on. I mostly feel guilty for almost every. Single. Decision I make every single day in regards to my children. I feel like I'm doing too much and not enough at the same time. I could be doing something differently, or more, or better. And I feel like I'm constantly screwing them up. Like this one thing will be the thing that they tell their therapist in 20 years about me. "Yeah, one time, my mom said she would leave me at Target if I didn't hurry up and it totally freaked me out and now I'm constantly worried about abandonment in my relationships." Or "One time, my mom was on the phone and yelled at me to calm down and stop screaming like a banshee and that really made me feel like my voice doesn't need to be heard." Or "my mom let me eat tortilla chips and peanut butter because that's all I would eat for the entire 4th year of my life and that's why I have cancer."
The problem with raising small humans is that there are no real-life progress reports. You don't know if you did a good job until they are adults and they don't end up on the Dr. Phil show complaining about you.
Nobody cares that you made it through the 4th tantrum of the day without throwing a plate against the wall. Nobody cares that you managed to get to the grocery store with both children AND all the food you were supposed to buy. Nobody cares that you managed to get them bed at the same time before 9pm. Nobody cares but your children. They care. You are their world. You are the mentor, the guiding light, the beacon of adulthood.
That's why we feel guilty. We feel guilty because our children deserve the best. They deserve for us to be operating at 100%. And when we inevitably fall short of perfection, we feel that guilt wash over us, because we love our children so much.
So that guilt? The feeling in your gut as you lay down and sigh at the end of day is a good sign. It means you're doing your best and you still want more for your children and your family.
It means you're doing an awesome job.